City Glow


At the MFAH in Houston, you can see an exhibit of the artistic origins of Japanese anime.  This still is from a short film by Chiho Aoshima, done in collaboration with Bruce Ferguson.  In Aoshima’s work, we see an amalgamation of pop art, anime, manga, and the Japanese "cult of cuteness" (think Hello Kitty).  Here is a summary from the MFAH website about the history leading up to work included in this exhibit.

In 1996 Tokyo artist Takashi Murakami established
the Hiropon Factory (later renamed Kaikai Kiki), a studio dedicated to
producing his increasingly large-scale sculptures and paintings.
Working with a select group of extraordinarily talented young
assistants, Murakami promoted a fresh approach to art and commerce. His
efforts produced a dynamic new wave of Japanese Pop, embracing the
pictorial style of manga (comic books) and anime (cartoons), all within the spirit of kawaii or
cuteness. Japanese Pop has since become one of the most vital currents
in today´s international scene and many of Murakami´s assistants have
emerged as important artists in their own right.


Chiho Aoshima began working with Murakami in the late 1990s, and in
1999 she began to exhibit independently as well. Using the computer as
a compositional tool, Aoshima realizes her images freely in various
media, including sculpture, mural design, prints, clothing, and, in
collaboration with animator Bruce Ferguson, video. Her imagery draws
upon traditional Japanese scroll paintings as well as contemporary
sources, blending landscape and narrative to create a vision of our
planet´s potential for both creation and chaos.


City Glow, 2005, is both monumental and playfully engaging.
Spanning five monitors, it opens in a garden, filled with fantastic
foliage and creatures. Slowly a modern city with living skyscrapers
grows from this Edenic paradise, and then as night falls, nature takes
over once again. Aoshima populates this landscape with both the forces
of good and evil: a graveyard filled with demonic ghosts is ultimately
banished by fairytale spirits and a new dawn.


Aoshima´s poetic evolutionary cycle can be understood as a commentary on the perils of global warming.  Ultimately, however, City Glow
offers a promise of hope and regeneration. Aoshima´s witty animation is
a delight to all ages, uniting the vivid graphic conventions of
contemporary anime with ancient traditions in Japanese art and thought.

Talking Walls

Talking Walls
is a website by
Jody Zellen, a Los Angeles artist. By juxtaposing photographic images and videotape of urban detail, she creates a grid of street signs and symbols.  Give the website some time to load properly.  The effect is very powerful. 
via rhizome


If you enjoy a good sleuth movie on a cold, wet, white day, then here’s a Robson_green_tony_alley_recommendation for you.  Check out Wire in the Blood, a British  series that I’ve recently discovered through Netflix.  (What was life before Netflix?)  The protagonists are a male psychologist (Robson Green) and a female chief of police (Hermione Norris).  Their unrequieted love affair is to-die-for.  The characters are based on the murder mysteries of Scottish writer, Val McDermid.

Art on Film

This week, thanks to my Netflix membership, I got to see two bio documentaries on artists.  Bunnies I found How To Draw a Bunny interesting and also pretty depressing.  It’s about the life and death of pop artist Ray Johnson. He was prolific, a neverending string of firecrackers.  Many of his pieces were postcard sized.  He mailed them to friends, messages in bottles.  He never did a show in an art gallery or museum. Howtodrawbunnyposter He did "happenings" which he refered to as "nothings."  I remember reading the story about his disappearance in the New York Times around ten years ago. I had never  heard of him then.  The saddest thing about the film is that although Johnson seemed to know "everyone" — his phone book included more famous names that I could list — all the people interviewed said that they felt like they never really knew him.

On the other hand, Rivers and Tides, a documentary about the work of Andy Goldsworthy was very Goldsworthyweb inspiring.  Goldsworthy is a sculptor, and all his raw materials come from the natural world.  He rearranges nature, I guess you could say.  He works with tiny icicles or marked stones or brilliant scarlet leaves.  Often his work is temporary and quickly unraveled by tides or winds or other forces of nature.  Just watching the film, I felt like I was being inviting "in," and it was pretty Goldsworthypebbles_1astonishing.

Off to California in the morning.  Must sleep.  Both films are worth seeing.


On U B U W E B, you can access short Fluxus films from the 60s, such as Zen for Film by Nam June Paik, Word Movie by Paul Sharits, and Eye Blink by Yoko Ono.  These are cool.  Poem-cool.

Starting in the early sixties, Fluxus (which means "to flow") followed in the footsteps of the Futurist and Dada avant-gardes, going against The Establishment and promoting imposture as an aesthetic.

NjpaikzenforfilmFluxus valorizes the interdisciplinary, bringing together diverging sources of inspiration. Initially received as little more than an international network of pranksters, the playful artists of Fluxus were, and remain, a network of visionaries whose work aims to reconcile art with everyday life.

Portrait of an Artist

Hardboiled_hollywoodThe way that Hollywood portrays writers, artists, and poets in film can be truly annoying.  Tell us about the movie that you’ve found most galling.